Meretz MK: Boost security for elections panel head after right-wing fury over ruling

Gaby Lasky calls for more protection for Justice Yitzhak Amit following backlash over his decision to disqualify rebel ex-Yamina MK Amichai Chikli from running on Likud slate

Chair of the Central Elections Committee Yitzhak Amit, center, at the Knesset, in Jerusalem, on September 15, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Chair of the Central Elections Committee Yitzhak Amit, center, at the Knesset, in Jerusalem, on September 15, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A Meretz lawmaker requested increased security protection for the Central Elections Committee chief following right-wing backlash after the panel disqualified a Likud candidate from running in the upcoming election.

MK Gaby Lasky sent a letter on Thursday to Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar, Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev and Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara seeking to boost protection for committee chief Justice Yitzhak Amit and other justices.

The letter came a day after Amit ruled that former Yamina MK Amichai Chikli should not be allowed to run with Likud in the November 1 election due to his failure to resign from the Knesset close to the date of his defection. Likud has vowed to appeal the disqualification to the Supreme Court, which tends to overturn such decisions.

Lasky claimed that following Amit’s ruling, “unprecedented incitement against Supreme Court justices is running amok on the web.”

The lawmaker, whose dovish Meretz party petitioned the committee to disqualify Chikli, also recalled remarks made by President Isaac Herzog on Wednesday night voicing concerns over heated political discourse, pleading that Israelis “not let the voices of extremism and violence lead us into an abyss of hatred.”

“The phenomena that the president spoke about are directed against the chair of the Central Elections Committee… and the Supreme Court justices,” Lasky wrote in her letter.

Meretz MK Gaby Lasky attends a meeting at the Knesset on June 21, 2021 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Right-wing activists raged against the decision to disqualify Chikli, accusing Amit of issuing a politically motivated ruling against the lawmaker — who, despite being a member of Naftali Bennett’s Yamina party, refused to vote with the coalition since its inception.

Some online comments accused Amit of planning to interfere in the election results to prevent a possible right-wing victory led by Likud. Others used harsher language, with one user tweeting: “Always remember! Fascism includes ‘political persecution,'” while one even issued a death threat against Amit.

Chikli was ejected from Yamina in April, 10 months after bucking the party by refusing to vote in favor of the big tent coalition it enabled and led. In July, he resigned his Knesset seat after reaching a deal with the Jerusalem District Court that allowed him to escape being sanctioned in the upcoming election.

Responding to the move to bar him on Wednesday evening, Chikli lamented the “bizarre and political decision,” calling it “an unparalleled injustice.”

MK Amichai Chikli at a Knesset House Committee meeting on the Yamina party’s request to declare him a ‘defector,’ on April 25, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Yamina lawmaker currently holds a plum 14th spot on Likud’s Knesset roster, placed by Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu in one of his three discretionary spots in realistic positions. If his disqualification holds, it will nullify the exercise of one of Netanyahu’s placements, as candidate slates were finalized on September 15 and the Likud leader can no longer replace him with a different politician.

Meretz had filed the petition to knock Chikli out of the race, claiming that he did not resign in a timely manner after leaving Yamina and thus should be sanctioned from running with a sitting Knesset party in November in line with election bylaws.

The committee accepted the argument, with chairman Amit reasoning that Chikli took 50 days from his Yamina ouster to petition the court for the relief that ultimately resulted in his resignation agreement, a period of time Amit called unreasonable.

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